Recently, INNOVA, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Memphis Bioworks Foundation, was selected for TNInvestco Status, granting the organization $20 Million in credit allocations from the State of Tennessee*.  In the current economic climate, this ground-breaking program provides vital stimulus funding to help jump-start the Memphis and Mid-South economy and to create transformational new companies and critical jobs for the 21st century.  We at Memphis Bioworks applaud the vision and creativity of the State of Tennessee in creating this innovative program.

INNOVA was selected for its expertise and track record of success.  Since Innova was first funded under the MemphisED Initiative of Memphis Fast Forward, the company has screened more than 200 potential business investments, and has made seven promising investments in the Memphis area.  These investments have attracted an additional $6 million in follow-on investment.  The companies range from biotech and medical device companies to technology and tech service companies. All are performing well and ahead of expectations.

INNOVA is on a successful path because it is so much more than just an investment organization.  Through its relationship with Memphis Bioworks Foundation, INNOVA has been able to provide entrepreneurs with access to incubator facilities, industry networks and rich academic research.  INNOVA has the added expertise in early-stage capital and the talent and ability to support the “Cycle of Entrepreneurship” to provide the coaching and mentoring that is vital in the early phase of the start-up process.  INNOVA’s president, Ken Woody provides the right background in the business of bioscience and the leadership skills to build a strong portfolio of companies.

In addition to Ken, Innova’s investment team now includes Jan Bouten, an experienced VC investor, formerly with The Aurora Funds in NC and who is now the Executive Director of TECWorks, another Memphis Bioworks Foundation initiative for entrepreneurship.  I have full confidence that under the leadership of Ken and Jan, INNOVA will deliver upon the promise of TNInvestco and its goal of economic development and job creation for Tennessee. INNOVA and TECWorks are just two examples of the Memphis Bioworks Foundation’s progress in leading the transformation of Memphis into an international center-of-excellence for the establishment of bioscience and technology companies.

The expertise and experience of the Innova team, the resources of the Memphis Bioworks Foundation and the support received as key initiatives of the Memphis Fast Forward and MemphisED programs, create an environment with the potential to achieve what the TNInvestco program is designed to enable – ‘transformational economic development’ in the State of Tennessee.  We are honored to have been entrusted by the State for this landmark program.

*Note: The Tennessee Small Business Investment Company Credit Act was signed into law in July, 2009 and offers $120 million in gross premiums tax credits to insurance companies for investment in the six designated TNInvestcos. A total of six TNInvestcos were authorized to invest funds in qualifying Tennessee start-up and small businesses, focusing primarily in early-stage where companies have the greatest need for investment dollars.